To Congress, Modi Stakes Claim to Democracy

Lawmakers welcome India's prime minister, who doesn't mention criticism
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 22, 2023 6:35 PM CDT
Modi Stresses Democratic Ties in Address to Congress
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a joint meeting of Congress at the Capitol in Washington on Thursday.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Facing criticism on his US visit over India's record on human rights, press freedom, and crackdowns on dissent, Prime Minister Narendra Modi assured Congress in an address Thursday that his nation considers itself "the mother of democracy." Modi received a warm welcome in the House chamber when he arrived for the joint address, with lawmakers waiting to shake his hand and some in the gallery shouting his name, the Washington Post reports. His speech emphasized what the US and India have in common as the world's "two great democracies." The prime minister told lawmakers, "Together we shall give a better future to the world and a better world to the future."

Several House Democrats did not attend the speech because of the human rights allegations. Before Modi arrived, more than 70 lawmakers urged President Biden to bring up political violence, internet shutdowns, and other issues they called "troubling signs" when he met with Modi. The prime minister did not mention such criticism in his address. He did use the opportunity to promote India as an economic partner with the US in competition against China. His nation can help diversify supply chains away from China, he said, specifically for semiconductors and critical minerals, per the Hill.

Senate and House members on Thursday introduced bipartisan bills to streamline the process for selling weapons to India. Modi had received a standing ovation during his address when he called the US his country's "most important defense partner." Biden was hosting Modi for a state dinner in the evening at the White House. (More Narendra Modi stories.)

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